30-Second Word Whoop: “Redoubt”

Peter Falk as “Columbo” was this word detective’s favorite television detective.

If the prefix “re-” means “again” or “return to” / “go back” (see previous post on “Reserve”), then why wouldn’t “redoubt” mean “to second-guess” or to pose — with a skeptical Columbo-esque turnabout — one final probing question? (The rumpled TV detective was known to press prime suspects with “Just one more thing …”)

On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t dissect “redoubt.” The definition is so counterintuitive as to be ridiculous.

“Redoubt” is not even a verb. It’s a noun meaning — wait for it — “a breastwork outside a fortification, to defend approaches, etc.”

SAY, WHAT? Breast … fornication? I shoulda known. It’s from the French. Another take: “a breastwork within a fortification.” Sure, that clears things right up.

Oh, hold on. The second definition is easier to penetrate: “any stronghold.”

I’m still stuck on the breastwork thing. Doncha love definitions that make you reach again for the dictionary? A sort of re-lookup. Redoubting the dictionary’s efficacy as a tool of information.

This is “breastwork” and some French guys waiting for action.

“Breastwork” is simply this: “a low wall put up quickly as a defense in battle.” OK. That’s pretty much striking out at second base. Got it.

So what gives on “redoubt”? Its basic etymology:

1608, from Fr. redoute, from It. ridotto “place of retreat,” from M.L. reductus “place of refuge, retreat,” from L. reduct-, pp. stem of reducere “to lead or bring back” (see reduce). The -b- was added by influence of unrelated Eng. doubt.

I give up.

Now, the American Redoubt I’ve heard of. This “strategic relocation movement” was popularized by 2008 presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party), who marched his whole clan first to colonize western Montana. The movement spawned weekly podcasts by Christian Libertarian journalist John Jacob Schmidt, called Radio Free Redoubtbilled as a “Refuge for God-Fearing, Liberty-Loving Patriots of the Western United States.”

First proposed by survivalist novelist and blogger James Wesley Rawles, the American Redoubt pinpoints three states — Idaho, Montana and Wyoming (all decidedly red), plus adjoining parts of Oregon and Washington (blue) — as havens for survivalists, conservatives, doomsday preppers, etc. Utah and New Hampshire also have made “free state” inroads.

Seems like the opposite of patriotism, and freedom, to me. My readout: I feel safer living as far as possible from people hoarding ammo and explosives.

Mount Redoubt, or Redoubt Volcano, is an active stratovolcano in the largely volcanic Aleutian Range of Alaska. Located in the Chigmit Mountains, Mount Redoubt towers 9,000 feet above its surrounding valleys.

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About Terry Byrne

Writer-editor with deep reservations about holding her tongue. Fan of both nature and nurture. Lifelong fascination with gender studies, sexuality, music and brainpower.

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